The NYTimes has a rather terrifying investigative article on the many ways in which “A Businessman in Congress Helps His District and Himself“:
VISTA, Calif. — Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Just a few steps down the hall, Representative Darrell Issa, the powerful Republican congressman, runs the local district office where his constituents come for help.
The proximity of the two offices reflects Mr. Issa’s dual careers, a meshing of public and private interests rarely seen in government.
Most wealthy members of Congress push their financial activities to the side, with many even placing them in blind trusts to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest. But Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh), one of Washington’s richest lawmakers, may be alone in the hands-on role he has played in overseeing a remarkable array of outside business interests since his election in 2000.
Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multimillion-dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.
As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts…
In case you’ve forgotten why Rep. Issa is any more important than every other Republican thug currently at large in the Capital, here’s Steve Benen’s explanation, from the Washington Monthly, way back in January:
GETTING TO KNOW DARRELL ISSA…. The new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is, of course, Rep. Darrell Issa, a far-right California Republican. As we’ve seen in recent months, Issa is set to make quite a name for himself — he’s accused President Obama of being “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times”; he’s asked business leaders to set his regulatory agenda for him; and he’s signaled an interest in launching a series of White House witch-hunts.
But before we get annoyed by where Issa’s going, it’s worth pausing to appreciate where he’s been. In a fascinating piece for the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza takes a close look at Issa’s rise to great wealth and political power and some of the “troubles” the right-wing congressman has had along the way.
Many politicians have committed indiscretions in earlier years: maybe they had an affair or hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. Issa, it turned out, had, among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.
Yes, the man House Republicans have tasked with investigating potential White House wrongdoing spent a fair amount of his adult life as an apparent criminal…
When it comes to Republicans, it’s always projection, isn’t it?